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James S. Risbey
,
Didier P. Monselesan
,
Terence J. O’Kane
,
Carly R. Tozer
,
Michael J. Pook
, and
Peter T. Hayman

Abstract

We define and examine extreme frost events at three station locations across southern Australia. A synoptic assessment of the events shows that they are generally characterized by passage of a front or trough followed by a developing blocking high. Frost typically occurs at the leading edge of the block. The very cold air pool leading to the frost event is the result of descent of cold, dry midtropospheric air parcels from regions poleward of the station. The air is exceptionally cold because it is advected across the strong meridional temperature gradients in the storm track. The air is dry because this equatorward meridional pathway requires descent and so must have origins well above the surface in the dryer midtroposphere. The position of the block and location of the dry descent are dynamically determined by large-scale waveguide modes in the polar jet waveguide. The role of the waveguide modes is deduced from composites of midtropospheric flow anomalies over the days preceding and after the frost events. These show organized wavenumber 3 or 4 wave trains, with the block associated with the frost formed as a node of the wave train. The wave trains resemble known waveguide modes such as the Pacific–South America mode, and the frost event projects clearly onto these modes during their life cycle. The strong interannual and decadal variability of extreme frost events at a location can be understood in light of event dependence on organized waveguide modes.

Full access
Carly R. Tozer
,
James S. Risbey
,
Didier P. Monselesan
,
Dougal T. Squire
,
Matthew A. Chamberlain
,
Richard J. Matear
, and
Tilo Ziehn

Abstract

We assess the representation of multiday temperature and rainfall extremes in southeast Australia in three coupled general circulation models (GCMs) of varying resolution. We evaluate the statistics of the modeled extremes in terms of their frequency, duration, and magnitude compared to observations, and the model representation of the midtropospheric circulation (synoptic and large scale) associated with the extremes. We find that the models capture the statistics of observed heatwaves reasonably well, though some models are “too wet” to adequately capture the observed duration of dry spells but not always wet enough to capture the magnitude of extreme wet events. Despite the inability of the models to simulate all extreme event statistics, the process evaluation indicates that the onset and decay of the observed synoptic structures are well simulated in the models, including for wet and dry extremes. We also show that the large-scale wave train structures associated with the observed extremes are reasonably well simulated by the models although their broader onset and decay is not always captured in the models. The results presented here provide some context for, and confidence in, the use of the coupled GCMs in climate prediction and projection studies for regional extremes.

Free access
Michael R. Grose
,
James S. Risbey
,
Aurel F. Moise
,
Stacey Osbrough
,
Craig Heady
,
Louise Wilson
, and
Tim Erwin

Abstract

Atmospheric circulation change is likely to be the dominant driver of multidecadal rainfall trends in the midlatitudes with climate change this century. This study examines circulation features relevant to southern Australian rainfall in January and July and explores emergent constraints suggested by the intermodel spread and their impact on the resulting rainfall projection in the CMIP5 ensemble. The authors find relationships between models’ bias and projected change for four features in July, each with suggestions for constraining forced change. The features are the strength of the subtropical jet over Australia, the frequency of blocked days in eastern Australia, the longitude of the peak blocking frequency east of Australia, and the latitude of the storm track within the polar front branch of the split jet. Rejecting models where the bias suggests either the direction or magnitude of change in the features is implausible produces a constraint on the projected rainfall reduction for southern Australia. For RCP8.5 by the end of the century the constrained projections are for a reduction of at least 5% in July (with models showing increase or little change being rejected). Rejecting these models in the January projections, with the assumption the bias affects the entire simulation, leads to a rejection of wet and dry outliers.

Full access
Carly R. Tozer
,
James S. Risbey
,
Terence J. O’Kane
,
Didier P. Monselesan
, and
Michael J. Pook

Abstract

We assess the large-scale atmospheric dynamics influencing rainfall extremes in Tasmania, located within the Southern Hemisphere storm track. We characterize wet and dry multiday rainfall extremes in western and eastern Tasmania, two distinct climate regimes, and construct atmospheric flow composites around these extreme events. We consider the onset and decay of the events and find a link between Rossby wave trains propagating in the polar jet waveguide and wet and dry extremes across Tasmania. Of note is that the wave trains exhibit varying behavior during the different extremes. In the onset phase of rainfall extremes in western Tasmania, there is a coherent wave train in the Indian Ocean, which becomes circumglobal in extent and quasi-stationary as the event establishes and persists. Wet and dry extremes in this region are influenced by opposite phases of this circumglobal wave train pattern. In eastern Tasmania, wet extremes relate to a propagating wave train, which is first established in the Indian Ocean sector and propagates eastward to the Pacific Ocean sector as the event progresses. During dry extremes in eastern Tasmania, the wave train is first established in the Pacific Ocean, as opposed to Indian Ocean, and persists in this sector for the entire event, with a structure indicative of the Pacific–South American pattern. The findings regarding different wave train forms and their relationship to rainfall extremes have implications for extreme event attribution in other regions around the globe.

Full access
Amanda S. Black
,
Didier P. Monselesan
,
James S. Risbey
,
Bernadette M. Sloyan
,
Christopher C. Chapman
,
Abdelwaheb Hannachi
,
Doug Richardson
,
Dougal T. Squire
,
Carly R. Tozer
, and
Nikolay Trendafilov

Abstract

The ability to find and recognize patterns in high-dimensional geophysical data is fundamental to climate science and critical for meaningful interpretation of weather and climate processes. Archetypal analysis (AA) is one technique that has recently gained traction in the geophysical science community for its ability to find patterns based on extreme conditions. While traditional empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis can reveal patterns based on data covariance, AA seeks patterns from the points located at the edges of the data distribution. The utility of any objective pattern method depends on the properties of the data to which it is applied and the choices made in implementing the method. Given the relative novelty of the application of AA in geophysics it is important to develop experience in applying the method. We provide an assessment of the method, implementation, sensitivity, and interpretation of AA with respect to geophysical data. As an example for demonstration, we apply AA to a 39-yr sea surface temperature (SST) reanalysis dataset. We show that the decisions made to implement AA can significantly affect the interpretation of results, but also, in the case of SST, that the analysis is exceptionally robust under both spatial and temporal coarse graining.

Significance Statement

Archetypal analysis (AA), when applied to geophysical fields, is a technique designed to find typical configurations or modes in underlying data. This technique is relatively new to the geophysical science community and has been shown to be beneficial to the interpretation of extreme modes of the climate system. The identification of extreme modes of variability and their expression in day-to-day weather or state of the climate at longer time scales may help in elucidating the interplay between major teleconnection drivers and their evolution in a changing climate. The purpose of this work is to bring together a comprehensive report of the AA methodology using an SST reanalysis for demonstration. It is shown that the AA results are significantly affected by each implementation decision, but also can be resilient to spatiotemporal averaging. Any application of AA should provide a clear documentation of the choices made in applying the method.

Free access
Carly R. Tozer
,
James S. Risbey
,
Michael Grose
,
Didier P. Monselesan
,
Dougal T. Squire
,
Amanda S. Black
,
Doug Richardson
,
Sarah N. Sparrow
,
Sihan Li
, and
David Wallom
Free access
Caroline C. Ummenhofer
,
Alexander Sen Gupta
,
Peter R. Briggs
,
Matthew H. England
,
Peter C. McIntosh
,
Gary A. Meyers
,
Michael J. Pook
,
Michael R. Raupach
, and
James S. Risbey
Full access
Caroline C. Ummenhofer
,
Alexander Sen Gupta
,
Peter R. Briggs
,
Matthew H. England
,
Peter C. McIntosh
,
Gary A. Meyers
,
Michael J. Pook
,
Michael R. Raupach
, and
James S. Risbey

Abstract

The relative influences of Indian and Pacific Ocean modes of variability on Australian rainfall and soil moisture are investigated for seasonal, interannual, and decadal time scales. For the period 1900–2006, observations, reanalysis products, and hindcasts of soil moisture during the cool season (June–October) are used to assess the impacts of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) on southeastern Australia and the Murray–Darling Basin, two regions that have recently suffered severe droughts. A distinct asymmetry is found in the impacts of the opposite phases of both ENSO and IOD on Australian rainfall and soil moisture. There are significant differences between the dominant drivers of drought at interannual and decadal time scales. On interannual time scales, both ENSO and the IOD modify southeastern Australian soil moisture, with the driest (wettest) conditions over the southeast and more broadly over large parts of Australia occurring during years when an El Niño and a positive IOD event (La Niña and a negative IOD event) co-occur. The atmospheric circulation associated with these responses is discussed. Lower-frequency variability over southeastern Australia, however, including multiyear drought periods, seems to be more robustly related to Indian Ocean temperatures than Pacific conditions. The frequencies of both positive and negative IOD events are significantly different during periods of prolonged drought compared to extended periods of “normal” rainfall. In contrast, the frequency of ENSO events remains largely unchanged during prolonged dry and wet periods. For the Murray–Darling Basin, there appears to be a significant influence by La Niña and both positive and negative IOD events. In particular, La Niña plays a much more prominent role than for more southern regions, especially on interannual time scales and during prolonged wet periods. For prolonged dry (wet) periods, positive IOD events also occur in unusually high (low) numbers.

Full access
Kirsten L. Findell
,
Rowan Sutton
,
Nico Caltabiano
,
Anca Brookshaw
,
Patrick Heimbach
,
Masahide Kimoto
,
Scott Osprey
,
Doug Smith
,
James S. Risbey
,
Zhuo Wang
,
Lijing Cheng
,
Leandro B. Diaz
,
Markus G. Donat
,
Michael Ek
,
June-Yi Lee
,
Shoshiro Minobe
,
Matilde Rusticucci
,
Frederic Vitart
, and
Lin Wang

Abstract

The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) envisions a world “that uses sound, relevant, and timely climate science to ensure a more resilient present and sustainable future for humankind.” This bold vision requires the climate science community to provide actionable scientific information that meets the evolving needs of societies all over the world. To realize its vision, WCRP has created five Lighthouse Activities to generate international commitment and support to tackle some of the most pressing challenges in climate science today. The overarching goal of the Lighthouse Activity on Explaining and Predicting Earth System Change is to develop an integrated capability to understand, attribute, and predict annual to decadal changes in the Earth system, including capabilities for early warning of potential high impact changes and events. This article provides an overview of both the scientific challenges that must be addressed, and the research and other activities required to achieve this goal. The work is organized in three thematic areas: (i) monitoring and modeling Earth system change; (ii) integrated attribution, prediction, and projection; and (iii) assessment of current and future hazards. Also discussed are the benefits that the new capability will deliver. These include improved capabilities for early warning of impactful changes in the Earth system, more reliable assessments of meteorological hazard risks, and quantitative attribution statements to support the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update and State of the Climate reports issued by the World Meteorological Organization.

Open access
Terence J. O’Kane
,
Paul A. Sandery
,
Vassili Kitsios
,
Pavel Sakov
,
Matthew A. Chamberlain
,
Dougal T. Squire
,
Mark A. Collier
,
Christopher C. Chapman
,
Russell Fiedler
,
Dylan Harries
,
Thomas S. Moore
,
Doug Richardson
,
James S. Risbey
,
Benjamin J. E. Schroeter
,
Serena Schroeter
,
Bernadette M. Sloyan
,
Carly Tozer
,
Ian G. Watterson
,
Amanda Black
,
Courtney Quinn
, and
Richard J. Matear

Abstract

The CSIRO Climate retrospective Analysis and Forecast Ensemble system, version 1 (CAFE60v1) provides a large (96 member) ensemble retrospective analysis of the global climate system from 1960 to present with sufficiently many realizations and at spatiotemporal resolutions suitable to enable probabilistic climate studies. Using a variant of the ensemble Kalman filter, 96 climate state estimates are generated over the most recent six decades. These state estimates are constrained by monthly mean ocean, atmosphere, and sea ice observations such that their trajectories track the observed state while enabling estimation of the uncertainties in the approximations to the retrospective mean climate over recent decades. For the atmosphere, we evaluate CAFE60v1 in comparison to empirical indices of the major climate teleconnections and blocking with various reanalysis products. Estimates of the large-scale ocean structure, transports, and biogeochemistry are compared to those derived from gridded observational products and climate model projections (CMIP). Sea ice (extent, concentration, and variability) and land surface (precipitation and surface air temperatures) are also compared to a variety of model and observational products. Our results show that CAFE60v1 is a useful, comprehensive, and unique data resource for studying internal climate variability and predictability, including the recent climate response to anthropogenic forcing on multiyear to decadal time scales.

Open access